War brews over Warsaw in 1939, and while life is still running its course, the Germans are slowly beginning to make their presence felt, with Hitler secretly preparing for the German invasion of Poland. Under those circumstances, the young couple of Jan and Antonina Zabinski continue their daily routine as owners and keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, but soon, as German Luftwaffe's Stukas hammer the Polish capital, their life's work together with the city, will turn to ashes. However, with the zoo liquidated for the war effort and many of its animals tragically perished, what was once an animals' zoo, will now serve as a sanctuary where Antonina, the humanist veterinarian, and Jan can hide the persecuted Polish Jews in plain sight until safe houses are found. That was Jan and Antonina's formidable, yet perilous plan, who regardless of the consequences, refused to wither before the Nazi menace, took matters into their own hands and sheltered 300 Jews under the Germans' noses. Written by
This is the second film in which Jessica performs a character playing the piano. The first was Crimson Peak (2015) directed by Guillermo del Toro. In Mama (2013) however she had to be taught how to play the guitar for the needs of the horror film. See more »
At 39 min when the pigs are arriving in to the zoo, behind the actors you can clearly see a truck made in the 2000's. See more »
You can never tell who your enemies are, or who to trust. Maybe that's why I love animals so much. You look in their eyes, and you know exactly what's in their hearts. They're not like people.
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The Zookeeper's Wife might look cute and cuddly on the front cover, yet it lures you into a bleak and depressing story.
Another saturated topic, we typically get two or three WWII films a year. Frustratingly, this is another typical holocaust film and one that will not standout against the packed crowd. In saying that though, this is an excellent "story" film to which I was fully immersed. A factual fictionalisation of the Warsaw Zoo surviving WWII where both animals and humans are in danger. The owners soon start to hide Jewish residents within the zoo in an attempt to save their lives from the Nazi holocaust. I expected a film about zookeepers and nearby residents saving animals from Nazi capture, boy was I completely wrong. The zoo animals only take precedent during the first fifteen minutes, and then the narrative's focus is purely on the owners, Jews and the Nazi regime. Soul draining is how I would describe this. It's bleak, depressing and not an ounce of happiness until the last five minutes. Director Niki Caro captures the horror of the holocaust and does not shy away from the brutality of it. She evokes powerful imagery that isn't portrayed in the film, we see a young girl being taken into a tunnel by two Nazi soldiers. We don't see what happens, but the detail in every scene enables us to imagine the terror that unfolded. Another synonymous scene would be when Jewish children are carried onto a train. We know where it's going, but the story never informs us. It's subliminal, and that might be due to the over saturation of this genre. Jessica Chastain stars as the eponymous character in what is one of her more nuanced performances, but emotionally vulnerable. When she cries, my God I feel it. Daniel Brühl was also captivating as the Nazi zoologist. Would I have liked the focus to be strictly on the zoo animals? Yes. It would've been different, less generic and perhaps more emotive. Can I complain about what was presented instead? No. A perfectly good WWII drama that is harrowingly depressing which will not set the cinematic world alight.
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